We constantly have our phones with us. Whether we're using it or not, it's always with us. We do everything on our phones.
From checking our emails, watching videos, browsing through social media, texting, playing games, or looking up the word "kerfuffle," we use our phones for anything and everything. It's alarming just how much time we spend on our phones.
Worse, we don't even realize how much time we spend on our phones.
Checking one notification can easily turn into an hour spent scrolling and app hopping on our phones. It may be radical to say this, but society today, especially Generation Z, is addicted to the smartphone.
Kids today are receiving their first phone at a younger age. Usually, that first phone is a smartphone. Many kids, and even adults, can no longer imagine a life without the smartphone.
Smartphones are convenient and help us so much. But there are also many downsides because their convenience is what makes us carry them around at all times. Tech companies designed the smartphone to be easy to use, portable, and efficient. This is what makes it so widespread.
However, I'm not so sure the advantages of the smartphone outweigh the disadvantages.
I grew up as the start of Gen Z, so I still have memories of growing up knowing what it was like not having a smartphone. I still remember trying to play tetris on my mom's flip phone, and then slam it shut in frustration when my short pudgy 7-year old fingers got tired from pressing the numbered buttons and my eyes grew tired from straining to glare at the tiny pixely screen.
I remember in middle school, everyone wanted the sideway-flip phone with a mini keyboard to text. And I remember begging my parents for one because at the time, that was the image of cool and popularity. But today, everyone and almost every middle schooler has a smartphone.
Buttons are a thing of the past, because now, the touchscreen dominates.
Smartphones demand our constant attention with notifications. Tech companies have studied the reward system of the brain to keep us and our attention on our phones.
Every time we hear our phone buzz and signal a new message, we can't help but feel the urge to reach for our phone and check it.
The message we receive is the reward, and the alert is the signal to our brain that has linked the message as a reward when we check our phones. This keeps us coming back, further connecting the loop between phone and our mental reward.
The feeling we get when receiving a mental reward is caused by the release of dopamine in our brain. Social media, particularly Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, are designed to cause the brain to release dopamine, otherwise known as the "feel-good" hormone. It's what makes the smartphone so addictive.
By grasping our attention, tech companies have manipulated our brains to focus on mindlessly scrolling and browsing through apps, which ends up taking most of our time and attention.
Phones today are used as a way of distraction. When we are bored, we reach for our phones. When we find ourselves waiting for our doctors appointment, we reach for our phones instead of the magazines lying haphazardly on the coffee table.
Smartphones keep us focused on distraction, in turn dulling our minds from thinking deeply, processing, observing, and wondering about the world around us. It has caused a lack of focus and creativity in other activities outside of our phones.
It's true that smartphones have made our world more interconnected, made information more easily accessible, and brought efficiency into our lives. But how much of our minds and time do we need to give up to obtain this convenience?